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 Trevor Sanders

Student says comments that landed him in jail were aimed at policy, not valedictorian

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GRUNDY COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVC) — Board policy says a student only has to be enrolled in Grundy County High for four out of seven semesters to be considered for the top spot of the class. A school suspension and even a night in jail, isn't stopping one student from trying to change that and at one point, the Grundy County School board was on his side.

According to court documents, Trevor Sanders was arrested for harassing the school's valedictorian with comments on his Facebook page.

"I believe it may have made her uncomfortable and I understand that," Sanders said. "I don't believe being uncomfortable because of somebody's comments, unless it's directly threatening to you, constitutes as harassment."Trevor says the comments on his page were not against the school's valedictorian. Instead, they were against the school board's policy regarding valedictorians. The school announced a student, graduating with only three years under their belt, would take the top spot of the class at graduation. Trevor says he thinks that honor should go to a student enrolled for all four years.

"There was a school board meeting that decided she would be ineligible," he said.That meeting was in December. Director of Schools Jessie Kinsey announced during a workshop that GCHS's principal, Diedre Helton, wanted to recommend changes to the school's handbook about who can be considered for valedictorian and salutatorian.

"She's requesting that the board consider that for a valedictorian or a student to be ranked first or second, that they have to have completed six semesters at Grundy County High School prior to the fall of their senior year," Kinsey says in the video.

According to the board's approved minutes from that meeting, the board approved those recommendations, then withdrew them at their next meeting, at the advice of the board's attorney.

"It's a big deal to me because I feel like their hard work for four years, shouldn't be discredited, even if an incredible student were to finish high school in three years," said Sanders. He says his fight to change policy was never meant to offend the student receiving the honor."I think it's incredibly impressive to do this extra work to graduate early," he said. "I hold no animosity toward her for absolutely any of this. My problem has always been with the school board policy."

Trevor says he thinks the real reason he was jailed was for speaking out against the policy. He says even if nothing changes after graduation, the suspension and arrest were worth it to try.

"Once it's said and over worth, I may not look back on it like it was the biggest deal in my life," Sanders said. "But I will care about the fact that I stood up with my class to fight this decision."Grundy County schools will hold a school board meeting Thursday night. Trevor says he will listen to the advice of his attorney on whether he should attend.

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